Hitchhiking with a Dog and a Bumblebee

I’m here in Tres Lagos

A one-horse town in the middle of nowhere. Probably the most remote barren place I’ve ever been in my life. Despite its name I haven’t seen one lago=lake, yet alone three, for several hundred kilometres.

The gorgeous Aussie spirits left this morning, and when they did I was ready to hit the road! My task today? To hitch a ride out of this landlocked ghost town to the promising shiny allure of ‘ciudad’ El Calafate.

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My Canine Sidekick

I find a place to base myself by the roadside at 9.30h.

The gorgeous young dog that slept by my tent last night has followed me here and continues his mission of sleep on the pavement. During the night I heard his shuffling and deep restful breaths through the thin membrane of my little shelter.

I didn’t expect company but am very glad of it.

I’m prepared today wearing my usual layers of calcinettas and thin wool thermals, hoodie, hat, boufanda=scarf… Thankfully, it’s a bright day and the wind is forgiving. These are things I’ve learnt to appreciate in Patagonia where El Clima is fully in charge. Here is an ocean of expansive pampa and sky. The dry strong winds greatly discourage trees to grow leaving little protection from the raw cheek-battering elements.

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A Sense of Freedom

I fire up my stove and brew some milky coffee. With hot drink, dog, sunshine and that wonderful mixture of freedom and independence this feels like an opportunity to literally stand still and reflect on my recent journey.

By 12.30h only a handful of vehiculos have passed through Tres Lagos. They’re all either full of vacationers or the locals going about their Sunday. Erm…yes…I’d lost track of the fact it’s Domingo. However, despite my initial panicky burst of ‘saudade’ last night to be in this nowhere alone, I’m in really good spirits.

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Rafal Kowalski comes into Town

My solace is interrupted when a lone cyclist arrives in town. Looking very travel savvy with a guitar and Polish flag strapped to the back of his vehiculo, we begin to chat. This is Rafal, a former Ikea carpenter who began travelling in 2005 and is still on the road having covered much of the globe. As I enjoyed his conversation my eyes wandered south to his Ruta-40-adapted combination of thick hiking socks and sandals. Nice touch Rafal!

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By sheer coincidence, I woke up one morning (3 days later) to see that Rafal was my immediate neighbour in the campsite in El Calafate.

Ooozing zest and a wide smile Rafal spun his tale of playing music on the street as he travels, to fund his travel. He almost took the words out of my mouth when he said simply that:

Street performance opens the heart of people. 

I share my street dancing experiences with him.

Recently, I’ve been feeling pretty feeble and domestic, craving my home comforts and wondering, sometimes, how to feel contentment without them. This short illuminating conversation with Rafal really put things into perspective for me.

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What a place to Be a Bee!

Enter the second highlight of this afternoon: a lovely bumblebee was bothering me a moment ago. His legs were heaving with pollen and he seemed to think that I might have nectar too. I’ve never had so much intimate attention from a bumblebee which gave me lots of time to study this tiny brilliant creature.

For a moment there I imagined windy cold barren Southern Patagonia from a Bee’s Eye View perspective, up in the air, looking down on wingless giant human hitchhikers who might have nectar.

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